In 2002, Auburn improved vastly on offense thanks largely to the tutelage of Bobby Petrino. Tony Franklin's first year as the Tigers' offensive coordinator isn't panning out nearly as well.
Struggling No. 20 Auburn, which continues to have trouble scoring, looks to avoid its third Southeastern Conference loss when it hosts Petrino and Arkansas on Saturday.
Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made Auburn –19.5 point spread favorites (View College Football odds) for Saturday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 61% of bets for this game have been placed on Arkansas +19.5 View College Football bet percentages).
In his first year as head coach of the Razorbacks (2-3, 0-2), Petrino isn't coming close to the success he had in his one season as offensive coordinator with the Tigers (4-2, 2-2).
Six years ago, Petrino helped Auburn average 29.8 points, including two games in which it scored more than 50. That success helped Petrino earn his first head coaching job - at Louisville the following year.
Now, though, Arkansas is averaging a meager 10.3 points during a three-game losing streak.
Franklin, meanwhile, is already facing job-security questions.
After a 14-13 loss to then-No. 19 Vanderbilt on Saturday, Tigers head coach Tommy Tuberville has had to refute Internet rumors about Franklin perhaps taking a lesser role on offense. Tuberville said Franklin, hired in the offseason to bring a spread offense to Auburn, will still call the plays.
The Tigers produced 82 total yards and six first downs over the final three quarters of their first loss to Vanderbilt since 1955. Auburn is ranked 104th nationally in total offense.
Junior running back Ben Tate, the Tigers' top threat on offense with 501 rushing yards, could certainly use some help.
"We're definitely trying to find our identity," Tate said. "As an offense, to be truthful, we're just awful. There's no other way to put it. Your numbers don't lie. When you look at yourself on film, that doesn't lie either. Other teams are probably just licking their chops. We're just not good on offense right now. We just have to find a way to get better."
With quarterbacks Kodi Burns and Chris Todd still vying for control of the starting job, Auburn was limited to 208 total yards against Vanderbilt. Todd, who enters this week with the No. 1 designation, passed for 70 yards and two touchdowns but threw an interception on the first play of Auburn's final possession and was sacked four times.
Burns went 2-for-6 for 28 yards.
"There's no panic," Tuberville said. "We've just got to look ourselves in the eye, all of us not just Tony. We've got to find ways to score more points and win games."
On defense, the Tigers have some injury problems. Tuberville said defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks (ankle) and cornerback Jerraud Powers (hamstring) are both listed as day-to-day.
Auburn's defense has kept the team competitive, allowing 11.1 points a contest.
That could be bad news for a struggling Arkansas offense. The Razorbacks have lost three straight games - albeit in a brutal stretch of schedule - to No. 9 Alabama, No. 7 Texas and No. 12 Florida by a combined 139-31.
Petrino, though, says his team is keeping the right mindset. Arkansas was competitive for most of last week's game, trailing 17-7 at the start of the fourth quarter before losing 38-17 to the Gators.
"I think it shows if you come out and prepare, work hard, you go to practice with a good attitude, that you get yourself in a position to win the game," Petrino said.
Improved pass protection would help. Senior quarterback Casey Dick, who needs 38 passing yards to claim sixth place on Arkansas' all-time list, has been sacked 10 times over the last two games and 18 times this season.
Junior Michael Smith continues to shoulder the burden at running back. He was the only back to receive a carry in last week's loss to Florida, running for 133 yards and a touchdown on 20 attempts to increase his season total to a career-high 423 rushing yards.
He has also tied a career high with three rushing TDs, while catching 18 passes for 171 yards and a score.
The last time they hosted the Razorbacks, on Oct. 7, 2006, the Tigers entered the game ranked second in the nation but suffered a stunning 27-10 defeat - their only loss in the last five meetings with Arkansas. Auburn holds a 10-6-1 edge in the all-time series.
Top Betting Trends:
All games in this series since 1992
AUBURN is 8-8 against the spread versus ARKANSAS since 1992
AUBURN is 9-6 straight up against ARKANSAS since 1992
5 of 9 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL since 1992
Games over the last 3 seasons
AUBURN is 1-1 against the spread versus ARKANSAS over the last 3 seasons
AUBURN is 1-1 straight up against ARKANSAS over the last 3 seasons
2 of 2 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons
All games played at AUBURN since 1992
AUBURN is 4-4 against the spread versus ARKANSAS since 1992
AUBURN is 4-3 straight up against ARKANSAS since 1992
2 of 4 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL since 1992
Games played at AUBURN over the last 3 seasons.
ARKANSAS is 1-0 against the spread versus AUBURN over the last 3 seasons
ARKANSAS is 1-0 straight up against AUBURN over the last 3 seasons
1 of 1 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons
Key Player Injuries:
[WR] Lucas Miller missed last game, upgraded to probable. - Concussion - 0
[WR] Marques Wade expected to miss the rest of the season - Knee - 09/22/0
[OL] Mitch Petrus out for the season - Eligibility - 09/09/08
[OL] Ray Dominguez left last game %27?%27 - Ankle - 09/28/08
[DB] Marcus Jemison is expected to miss entire season - Leg - 09/06/08
[OL] Darrell Roseman missed last game, %27?%27 - Shin - 09/28/08
[WR] Philip Pierre-Louis is out for the season. - Knee - 09/02/08
[RB] John Douglas missed last game, %27?%27 - Knee - 09/28/08
[RB] Tristan Davis is upgraded to probable - Head - 09/30/08
[WR] Chris Slaughter out indefinitely - Suspension - 09/07/08
[LB] Tray Blackmon is upgraded to probable - Wrist - 09/30/08
[DB] Zac Etheridge limited last game, "?". - Shoulder - 09/29/08
[CB] Aairon Savage expected to miss entire season - Knee - 08/07/08
[RB] Brad Lester is upgraded to probable - Ankle - 09/30/08
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